Attorneys for former President Donald Trump have filed a motion at State Supreme Court in Manhattan to remove the judge overseeing his criminal case, citing, among other things, ties between the judge's family and Democrat causes.
Judge Juan Merchan is presiding over the case filed by Democrat Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, in which Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 state felony counts of filing false business records in the first degree relating to alleged hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.
"President Trump, like all Americans, is entitled under the Constitution to an impartial judge and fair legal process," a Trump spokesperson wrote Wednesday on the former president's 2024 campaign website. "This motion lays out Judge Merchan's significant conflicts. The Judge's daughter stands to significantly financially benefit from a decision her father may make because of her direct efforts with Joe Biden's campaign."
The statement also points to Merchan presiding over a case in which he sentenced Alan Weisselberg, 75, a former chief financial officer in the Trump Organization, to five months in prison in a tax-fraud scheme.
Weisselberg reached a deal with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to 15 felonies and was required to testify truthfully at the trial of two Trump Organization companies, pay $2 million in back taxes, interest and penalties, and waive any right to appeal.
"Judge Merchan also apparently made political contributions to Joe Biden and to causes such as 'Stop Republicans,' " the spokesperson wrote. "This case has no factual or legal merit, having been brought by a District Attorney who ran on a platform of 'Get Trump.' An impartial judge is vital to stop this travesty of justice."
Trump's legal team has already filed a motion to move the case to federal court, a move opposed by Bragg, who is also expected to oppose the motion to have Merchan removed from the case.
Getting Merchan to step down will be a tough task for Trump's attorneys because he would have to agree to recuse himself.
In the case against the two Trump Organization companies that Merchan presided over, Trump's attorneys tried to have Merchan removed but Merchan refused to step down. The companies were found guilty of 17 counts related to tax fraud and other charges. The former president and members of his family were not charged in that case.
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